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Old West characters bring stories to Sheldon stage

Pecos Bill, portrayed by Rick Stuve, tells a tall tale during a performance at the Homestake Opera House in Deadwood, S.D.

History or entertainment?

"In the Company of Legends" is both.

The original play starring such memorable characters as William "Buffalo Bill" Cody, Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson will be performed at 7 p.m. Oct. 20 at the Sheldon Theatre.

The play was created by brothers David and Rick Stuve and their friend Tom Doroff, all of whom appear in the production, according to Frontier Legends Entertainment Executive Director Adam Lindquist.

"It's a story about men you thought you knew, told in a way you won't forget," Lindquist said.

"We are sticklers for bringing the audience back to the era and letting them get a real flavor for who these men were and why they became legends," said Doroff, who appears as Buffalo Bill.

Nobody does it better, Lindquist said. "Doroff won the national title for best Cody Impersonator in 2012 at the Buffalo Bill Museum in Golden, Colo."

A larger than life character, Cody was perhaps the most famous man in the world during his heyday. The play, set in the late 1890s, takes place in Cody's tent at his Wild West Show.

Lindquist described the action: "Elliot Longfellow is a savvy Boston reporter sent West to find a scandal" at the Wild West show.

"He gets much more than he bargained for when Cody's friends Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson show up to set him straight."

Lindquist, who portrays the Boston reporter, said, "My job was to find the dirt so that we could sell more newspapers. This is at the time when 'yellow journalism' was just coming in, and finding a scandal was the No. 1 priority.

"The men I encounter know this, and I walk a very fine line between finding the story and finding a final resting place. The audience gets to come along for the ride."

Stuve, who appears as Earp, attributes the play's success to the fact that "audiences get a history lesson hidden within an entertaining story ... . People who have come to the show have told us they became intrigued and read more about the men we portray because they really are interesting people who shaped our American experience."

Other Wild West characters also will make an appearance on stage.

"This turn-of-the-century tale will have you on the edge of your seat as Longfellow learns firsthand why certain people become legends," Lindquist said.

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